Born in Massachusetts in 1759 to a free black man and a Native American woman, Paul's father died when Paul was just 13 years old.
At that time, Paul knew little more than the alphabet, yet learned to read and to educate himself.
But Paul dreamed of building a shipping business and incredibly, here is how he accomplished it:
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At the age of 16, Paul joined the crew on a whaling ship from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and subsequently, he crewed on cargo ships, and saved his money.
At 20, he and his brother built a small boat to ship cargo to Nantucket. To be successful he had to learn to evade pirates, which he did, as he built a profitable operation.
Now he had enough savings to buy a ship and hire a crew.
As that ship became profitable, Paul kept reinvesting the money in ship after ship and didn't stop until he owned a fleet of ships.
He also became a ship builder with his own shipyard.
Paul was arguably the richest black (and Indian) man of his time, as most American black people were slaves, and widespread discrimination persisted, even among those who were free, up north.
But there was even more to Paul who was a devout Quaker and an abolitionist.
In an attempt to reduce racial confrontation, starting in 1809 he helped finance the African colony of Sierra Leone, for American black people seeking to build better lives outside the U.S.
U.S. President James Madison liked Paul's concept so well, that in 1811, he invited Paul to the White House to discuss it further, at a time when the White House was served by slaves.
This may have been the first time in U.S. history that a black man was invited to the White House to meet with the President.
But Sierra Leone was a British colony and the British and Americans were constantly bickering with one another, and would soon fight The War of 1812.
Paul tried unsuccessfully to mediate this war, a war which ended in 1814. Sierra Leone never became a successful colony.
What did the wealthiest black man of his time do with his money?
He helped finance one of the first racially integrated schools in the U.S.
His money also helped construct the Quaker integrated Society of Friends meeting house in Westport, Massachusetts for worship and for the exchange of ideas among people of all nationalities and colors.