Selling a million copies a year for over 100 years, McGuffey's Readers were the mainstay of public education in America. Generations of school children read them, making them some of the most influential books of all time. They were written by William McGuffey, who died MAY 4, 1873. A professor at the University of Virginia and president of Ohio University, he began one of nation's first teachers' associations. In the foreword of McGuffey's Reader, 1836, he wrote: "The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions." In McGuffey's 5th Eclectic Reader, 1879, is a lesson by William Ellery Channing, titled Religion The Only Basis of Society: "How powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God...Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite, knowing no restraint...would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws... Man would become...what the theory of atheism declares him to be-a companion for brutes."