Born in 1823 in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
With the support of his father, Hicks studied for a short time at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, then moved to New York, where in 1838 he entered the antique class of the National Academy of Design. He also studied painting in Europe, where he went in 1845. Visited London, Paris, Florence and Rome.
In 1849, Hicks returned to the United States and settled in New York, where he became a successful artist and had his own studio. In 1851, he was elected a full member of the National Academy of Design.
Thomas Hicks was a portrait painter, but is also known for his genre scenes. Among his works is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, which was made in 1860 based on an engraving by Leopold Grozelier. He also painted a portrait of his cousin , the artist Edward Hicks.
The American artist George Ewell studied for some time with Thomas Hicks.
He died in 1890 in Trenton Falls, New York.