By 1919, the United States entered a period of anti-radical hysteria. The Bolsheviks wanted to overthrow the U. S. government by force, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. . . an idea that didn’t sit well with the U. S. public.
U. S. servicemen, home from the wars, were infuriated by leftist “apparatchiks” who sought to use U. S. freedoms to overthrow the government that was sheltering them.
At the same time, wartime inflation had doubled prices in the U. S.
Nascent labor unions demanded higher wages and collective bargaining, and characterized America’s businessmen as robber barons. “Rallied by Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, the War Department and the FBI devoted themselves to passionately crushing the Bolshevik menace.
While William was “incarcerated” in California,
“He often borrowed the family car or boardied a bus and toured the small towns that dotted the California coast. Sarah reminisced about his travels: “Helena always turned to nature, but it was the man-made world that Billy loved. He told me with a glow of the pleasure that he got in going into strange towns, and eating at little holes-in-the-wall with all the people who drive the trucks and push the typewriters that make the world go. Thus Billy, who had grown up among people who were above all intellectual, who made their mark on their time, fell in love with the type of person who leaves no record in this world except in the memories of those who loved them.”