In the period following the Civil War, developments in technology and business changed the daily lives of Americans. The expansion of railroad lines allowed the movement of goods to take place more quickly and inexpensively, helped other industries to thrive, and paved the way for American industry to expand into the West. The telephone increased rapid communication to businesses and private homes. Thomas Edison's electric lightbulb led to power plants and the illumination of whole neighborhoods and cities. The Model T was Henry Ford's car for the masses. The assembly line allowed Ford to produce a car that was affordable and easy to keep in good repair.
Helping to drive economic growth were entrepreneurs who created companies that developed important resources and technology. John D. Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Company, while Andrew Carnegie's company produced one-third of the nation's steel. By forming monopolies and trusts these men and others were able to control prices and eliminate competitors. In response to public pressure Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 to curb the power of big business.
The industrial growth of the late 1800s created new jobs, but many of these jobs were in noisy, unhealthy, dangerous factories. Labor unions formed to demand better pay and working conditions from employers. Tensions between labor unions and employers sometimes resulted in violence, such as at Chicago's Haymarket Square in 1886.