- “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man!”
- ―Jebediah Springfield's famous speech
Hans Sprungfeld, better known as Jebediah Obadiah Zachariah Jedediah Springfield was the purported historical founder of the town of Springfield and a murderous pirate.
Hans Sprungfeld was born around the year 1760 to poor farmers in Axhandle, Virginia, where he learned various skills from his parents. Sprungfeld left his home and joined a merchant ship, where he became a pirate.
Sprungfeld was most famous for attacking George Washington with an ax during an attempt to steal all of Washington’s money in 1781. Washington handily fought Hans back, and, bested, Sprungfeld escaped back to sea. To hide his identity, Hans changed his name to Jebediah Springfield in 1795 and fled to Maryland.
In 1796, Jebediah Springfield led a band of wagons from Maryland and headed westward with his partner Shelbyville Manhattan on a quest to find "New Sodom" after misinterpreting a passage of the Bible. They later parted over political differences; Manhattan wanted to found a town where people could marry their own cousins, while Springfield wanted a town devoted to chastity, abstinence, and a flavorless mush he called "root-marm". Manhattan went on to found the rival town of Shelbyville.
Despite Springfield's hero status in modern-day Springfield many of his famed deeds have come into question under historical examination. On an expedition to Springfield's historic "Fort Springfield", Bart uncovered inconsistencies in the Jebediah legend, discovering that he accomplished multiple heroic feats on the same day in different and far apart locations.
The Controversial Truth
Lisa later proved that "Jebediah Springfield" was in fact a bloodthirsty pirate and enemy of George Washington named Hans Sprungfeld, who had changed his name in 1795 to hide his identity. He wrote his confession on a scrap of paper that formed the "missing piece" of the famously incomplete portrait of George Washington, which he procured when he stepped on the original painting while it was still wet. However, upon seeing the town pride Springfield has for their founder and history, Lisa decided to keep the discovery to herself.
A distinguishing characteristic of Sprungfeld was his prosthetic silver tongue, which was built to replace his real tongue which was bitten off by a Turkish pirate during a grog house fight. According to The Simpsons Guide to Springfield rumors state that the silver tongue is currently in the possession of Mayor Quimby, who uses it as a paperweight.
Springfield is said to have dramatically killed a bear with his bare hands, though revisionist historians have determined the bear in fact probably killed him. A statue depicting Springfield's victory stands in the center of the Springfield town square, in front of the city hall. His secret will contains a confession that he was suffering from then fatal diphtheria and according to Lisa Simpson's research, he died of syphilis. The will also reveals that the untameable buffalo he was believed to have tamed was already tame and that he merely shot it. According to Bart, he may have been shot by Natives after the townspeople traded guns for corn but the Indians shot them and took the corn.
Springfield had many famous quotations, such as "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man", and was well known for his figurative and literal silver tongue. He also wears a coonskin cap.
The Springfield Historical Society, headed by Hollis Hurlbut, is devoted to the study of the town's history, specially Jebediah's. Hurlbut, who is aware of Springfield's true background, keeps the truth hidden.
The Springfield Marathon commemorates an occasion on which he ran across six states in order to avoid his creditors.
The Springfield's monument also contains the Jebediah's bear.
The statue was once beheaded with a hacksaw by Bart, who thought that it would make him more popular. In reality, the town became depressed and angry, leaving Bart to endure “The Tell-Tale Heart”-style guilt before he returned the head to its rightful place. It appears that while the head is back in its rightful place it has never been properly re-attached, as it frequently falls off.
- Jebediah Springfield is a premium character in The Simpsons: Tapped Out. In the game, several of Jebediah's lines and one of his tasks (repent for many sins) indicates he separately had some remorse about his past.