For almost 200 years after the founding of the United States, the value of the U.S. dollar was officially backed by gold. This was called the gold standard. In 1933, in partial response to the Great Depression, Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. In other words, a person could no longer insist on being paid in gold. For a while, at the time, it was illegal for Americans to own gold.