So 100 odd people attempt to leave England in two old leaky merchant boats which were not designed to cross the ocean, one of which (the Speedwell, how's that for an ironic name?) starts to sink, forcing the party to return to England, and double up into the now cramped Mayflower. Because of the delays in departure, rather than leave at the beginning of the summer as intended, they leave in September, the beginning of hurricane season in the Atlantic. Their money has run out for the voyage, and it's now or never, so they depart. After the battering the old boat took in the middle of the Ocean, the ship's main beam cracks, threatening them all with watery graves. Fortunately, among the ship's cargo to the New World is a printing press, which they dismantle, and use the main screw of the press to keep the beam of the ship in one piece. After 65 days at sea, most of which was in storm conditions, and horribly blown off course from their intended Virginia, they land in an area known as "Northern Virginia," on the grey frigid beaches of Cape Cod. Before landing, and to quiet the chatter of mutiny, the first self-governing document, the Mayflower Compact, is drawn up and voluntarily signed by the men to choose leaders and make their own laws. Upon landing, they rob Native graves, which held corn given as offerings so they could eat. Finding little else to sustain them, and after being attacked by the Natives, they shove off again and finally make landfall at the time of the Winter Solstice, 1620. It's the middle of winter in what was to be called New England, they are out of supplies, out of food, no shelter is available, and they cannot continue the voyage south. So they build rudimentary shelter and begin to starve to death. By spring, half of them are dead from starvation and illness. However, they sign a peace treaty, and with the help of two Natives, they clear the area and plant what they can. Natives and Pilgrims work side by side, and in October 1621, they have feast, and are grateful to be alive.
We all know the downside of what happened. But to dismiss all the tale of survival and thanks is wrong as well.