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Forbes, William Cameron (1870–1959)

Forbes, William Cameron (1870–1959)

William Cameron Forbes (b. 21 May 1870; d. 24 December 1959), businessman and presidential adviser. Forbes, born in Milton, Massachusetts, graduated in 1892 from Harvard, where he later coached football. In 1894 he took a position at a Boston brokerage firm. He was named a life partner in the family investment house in 1899.

In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Forbes to the Philippines Commission. He served there in various capacities, including governor-general, until 1913. The following year, he was appointed receiver of the Brazil Railway Company, which had operations in five South American countries.

Forbes was sent back to the Philippines in 1921, as part of a commission to study the future of U.S. relations there. The commission concluded that it would be a mistake to withdraw from the islands at that time. Later, Forbes wrote a history of the Philippines (1929).

In 1930, Herbert Hoover appointed Forbes to head a commission to advise him on U.S. policy regarding Haiti. There had been anti-American demonstrations in 1929 and expressions of discontent with the continued American military occupation of Haiti. Hoover wanted assistance in settling civil disturbances and in assessing the continued occupation.

Some of the commission members wanted the troops pulled out immediately. However, a majority, including Forbes, recommended a phased withdrawal to be completed no later than 1936, and they recommended that all services run by Americans be Haitianized.

See alsoPhilippines; Railroads.


Rayford W. Logan, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (1968), pp. 138-140.

Robert M. Spector, W. Cameron Forbes and the Hoover Commissions to Haiti (1930) (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Boot, Max. The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

                                      Charles Carreras

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