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A major depression occurred in the United States following the Panic of 1873. As a means of relieving the misery of many people, proposals were put forth to expand the supply of money in circulation and to generate inflation.Hayes was a social liberal in many respects, who fought to protect the recently won rights of the former slaves and worked to ease the plight of Chinese immigrants. However, on economic matters he was a conservative and offered a sympathetic ear to the nation's financial interests. His two major contributions were:
- The veto of the Bland-Allison Act (1878), a measure designed to get silver into circulation; Congress re-passed the measure over the president's veto
- The build-up of federal gold reserves in anticipation of the implementation of the Specie Resumption Act (1875), which was slated to go into effect on January 1, 1879; the government was so successful in preparing for this event that the greenbacks achieved parity with specie-backed notes well in advance of the deadline.