He was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he entered the dry-goods business, then moved to Boston to follow the same business, and finally to New York where he gradually combined the importing of books with the dry-goods trade.
Later, he devoted himself to the book business, publishing his first book in 1831. The firm which he established, known ever since as D. Appleton & Co.. The publications of the house extend over the entire field of literature. Its "American Cyclopaedia" was for 50 years the largest and most widely circulated work of its kind ever produced in the United States. His company was continued by his descendants.
On December 18, 1791 Daniel married Hannah Adams (1791-1859) who bore him eight children: