I was pleased to recently find that my hunches were correct; indeed KMI did have connections in response to the raid. In the Friday, January 20, 1860 edition of the Lexington Kentucky Statesman newspaper an article ran under the title of "Citizen Soldiery." In the immediate aftermath of Harpers Ferry, Kentucky newspaper editors vehemently called for a reorganization of the state's militia system, which was also later demanded by Governor Magoffin. A new state militia system, the Kentucky State Guard, finally took effect by order of the state legislature in March 1860. But, in the weeks after Brown's execution the demand was still being made to secure the safety of Kentucky's citizens.
In the "Citizen Soldiery" article the Kentucky Statesman editor called attention to a recent submission to the Frankfort Yeoman newspaper that praised KMI, which was located near the capital city. The editor explained that, there was an "importance of establishing our State militia upon a war footing, defensive if not offensive." He went on to state that, "Ours is a border State, and whenever the conflict comes, we must stand the brunt of the battle....Geography has assigned Kentucky her position, and her people will accept it in no craven spirit; and our legislators should not leave it to a late posterity to reproach them with being unfaithful guardians upon our watch-towers."
The editor then closed with his recommendation and full endorsement of KMI, especially in the then present tying times. He stated, "We recommend this Military Institute to the patronage of the citizens of Kentucky; for their sons may require the sword as well as they scythe; and they will find, unless some good Providence give a different direction upon this mad time, that those men will be most useful to their State who have made more proficiency in tactics than in the quieter paths of the classics." (Emphasis in original.)
The Kentucky Military Institute was founded in 1845 by Robert T.P. Allen, a former West Point graduate, veteran of the Seminole War, and professor at Transylvania University, and was chartered in 1847. The institute was located just six miles south of Frankfort and drew students largely from the Ohio River valley and the Southern states. The school produced scores of soldiers for both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. In 1894 the school moved to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, and then in 1896 moved to Lyndon, in Jefferson County, Kentucky. In 1906 the Institute began the interesting (and I'm sure popular) practice of moving its winter session to Florida, and apparently and strangely, it kept up the practice until it closed its doors in 1971.
Military institutes were extremely popular choices for Southern parents in the antebellum years. Almost every Southern state could count one or more private or state supported military schools. In his book, The Militant South, historian John Hope Franklin explained their appeal to antebellum Southerners. A military style education, "provided the type of experience that made for stronger, healthier men," plus it encouraged a high level of scholarship, reinforced Southern values, and properly prepared the pupils for their futures as Southern men .(pg. 139)
As my research continues, I hope to find more interesting connections between KMI and John Brown's raid.