William Cameron Forbes

William Cameron Forbes
Governor General of the Philippines
In office
November 11, 1909  September 1, 1913
Preceded by James Francis Smith
Succeeded by Newton W. Gilbert (acting)
1st President of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation
In office
Succeeded by Manuel L. Quezon
Personal details
Born William Cameron Forbes
(1870-05-21)May 21, 1870
Died December 24, 1959(1959-12-24) (aged 89)

William Cameron Forbes (May 21, 1870 – December 24, 1959) was an American investment banker and diplomat. He served as Governor-General of the Philippines from 1909 to 1913 and Ambassador of the United States to Japan from 1930 to 1932.

He was the son of William Hathaway Forbes, president of the Bell Telephone Company, and wife Edith Emerson, a daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, nephew of James Grant Forbes and grandson of Francis Blackwell Forbes. After graduating from Harvard in 1892, he embarked on a business career, eventually becoming a partner in J. M. Forbes and Company.[1]


During the administration of President William Howard Taft, Forbes was governor-general of the Philippine from 1909 to 1913.[2] Previously, during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, he had been Commissioner of Commerce and Police in the American colonial Insular Government of the Philippines from 1904 through 1908; and he was Vice Governor from 1908 through 1909.[1] As modest legacy from those years of service in Manila, the gated community of Forbes Park in Makati, was named after him; and this community is the residence of some of the wealthiest people in the country. Also, Lacson Ave. (Formerly Forbes Ave.) in Manila is still called "Forbes" by some up to the present day.

In 1921, President Warren G. Harding sent Forbes and Leonard Wood as heads of the Wood-Forbes Commission to investigate conditions in the Philippines.[1][3] The Commission concluded that Filipinos were not yet ready for independence from the United States, a finding that was widely criticized in the Philippines.[4]


Forbes was appointed by President Herbert Hoover in 1930 to lead a commission charged with investigating the reasons for ongoing minor rebellions in Haiti.[1]


Forbes was nominated By President Hoover and confirmed as United States Ambassador to Japan, 1930-1932.[1]

Later years

Forbes received an LL.D. from Bates College in 1932. He was on the Board of Trustees, Carnegie Institution of Washington and a Life Member of the Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was on the original standing committee of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles from 1941. He died unmarried in 1959.


His papers are in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Copies of his annotated journal are at the Library of Congress and the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. The report of the Forbes Commission's Haitian analysis is at the Library of Congress.

Philippine administrator:

Ambassador to Japan:

Selected works

He wrote the following books and articles:


Preceded by
Newton W. Gilbert
Governor-General of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Francis Burton Harrison
Preceded by
William Castle, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Succeeded by
Joseph Grew
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