What actions did Franklin D. Roosevelt take to strengthen America's monetary system during the Great Depression and what were the impacts of the New Deal on various minorities? Who were the leading critics of his presidency and New Deal policies? What was the legacy of the New Deal?

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During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt took two major actions to strengthen the monetary system. First, he introduced federal deposit insurance, thereby increasing consumer confidence in banks, growing banking deposits, and heightening the ability of financial institutions to undertake lending. Second, he moved the United States away from the gold standard—the use of which had been largely credited to disastrous deflation. This was accomplished through the passage of the Gold Reserve Act of 1934.

During the Great Depression, minorities were disproportionately impacted. While the programs extended under the New Deal, in general, helped ethnic minorities, one specific executive order of the president has been credited with having a transformative impact. Executive Order 8802— issued by Roosevelt in 1941—prohibited discrimination on the basis of race in the arms and defense industries. Two years later this was extended to include all government contracting.

Critics of the New Deal came from a variety of sectors, both on the left and the right. On the right were members of the congressional opposition (the Republican Party) who felt the New Deal went too far. On the left were progressive stalwarts who felt it didn't go far enough. This latter group included Father Charles Coughlin and his National Union for Social Justice, Dr. Francis Townsend, and Louisiana Governor Huey Long.

While the New Deal didn't end the Great Depression, it did manage to soften its impact for many Americans. More significantly, it had a major impact on the way Americans thought about the role of the federal government.

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