North Carolina entered the importing business in the later part of 1862, an idea promoted by Adjutant General James G. Martin and supported by Governor Zebulon Vance. The State purchased the “Ad-Vance” for the purpose of blockade running and the ship soon paid for itself by carrying cotton bales to Europe and using the profits to bring in millions of dollars’ worth of supplies. Within a year Governor Vance reported to his legislature that he had enough supplies on hand, along with those obtainable at home, to supply North Carolina’s forces through 1865 even if he did not get another dollar from abroad.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Governor Vance Versus the Confederate Government
“In North Carolina the Confederate government stirred up a hornet’s nest when it attempted to enforce its contracts with the steamship companies. Governor Vance flatly refused to allow any of the steamers in which North Carolina had acquired a share to put on board a bale of Confederate [government] cotton.
Two days after this, January 6, 1864, [Secretary of War James A.] Seddon remonstrated against the Governor’s obstructiveness, telling him that “the necessities of the [Confederate] government really require adherence to this regulation,” and that he hoped he would not encourage or allow the infringement of the contract requiring the ship owners to carry one-third on government account.
The next day the Governor replied that North Carolina had 40,000 blankets, 40,000 pairs of shoes, large quantities of clothing, leather and other supplies at Bermuda, and that he must have all the steamers in which North Carolina had an interest to carry these goods. “It is a little remarkable . . . ,” he said, “that the entire importing operations of this State, which have been so successful . . . seem to have met with little else than downright opposition rather than encouragement from the Confederate government . . . “
Then came delays of his ships at Wilmington, and the impressments of his coal by the Confederate government to furnish the privateers. Now, he said, the climax had been reached in the attempt of the government to force private blockade runners . . . to carry a third of their cargoes on government account. He felt sure that the [private blockade-running] companies would stop all their vessels, since there would be no profit left . . . if the regulations were enforced he would countermand their sailing.
On January 14  Seddon replied that the steamship companies whom Vance had taken under his special protection were all foreigners, solely interested in getting as much cotton . . . out of the country in return for as little service and sacrifice as possible . . .
Soon afterward, on February 17, 1864, the law . . . empowered the President [to regulate] all private import and export trade, leaving the States free to carry on their own trade in vessels owned entirely by the State. Immediately . . . all ships going out and coming in must carry one-half of their cargoes on Confederate account.”