Born in New York City, Vance attended the common schools. He moved to New Britain, Connecticut, in 1870. He attended the high school. City clerk of New Britain from 1878 until his resignation in 1887, having been elected a Representative. He became editor and publisher of the New Britain Herald in 1881. He served as member of the State house of representatives in 1886.
Vance was elected as a Democrat to the Fiftieth Congress (March 4, 1887-March 3, 1889). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1888 to the Fifty-first Congress. He resumed his former business pursuits. Labor commissioner of Connecticut 1893-1895. He served as mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, in 1896 and 1897. He served as delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1902. He died in Montreat, North Carolina, June 15, 1902. He was interred in Fairview Cemetery, New Britain, Connecticut.