BOSTON (AP) — As Americans sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, they should give thanks to one of the original Pilgrims for their very existence.

John Howland may not be as famous as William Bradford, John Carver or Myles Standish, yet he probably had a greater impact.

And he almost never made it. Howland fell off the Mayflower during a gale and had to be pulled back aboard.

Howland married another Mayflower passenger and they had 10 children and more than 80 grandchildren. Now, 2 million Americans can trace their roots to him. Their descendants include presidents Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. and George W. Bush.

Howland's story is the subject of a new children's book by Irish illustrator and author P.J. Lynch, "The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune."